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The lifelong Blue came to acting relatively late in life, but he has more than made up for it over the past 25 years where he has appeared in some of the best British dramas and comedies on screen and TV.
Indeed, he has an enviable CV, working alongside leading British directors such as Ken Loach and is perhaps best known as pub landlord Ken in the cult BBC 2 comedy ‘Early Doors’.
In his latest movie, he gets to realise two boyhood dreams in one role – playing Jack Friar in ‘The Keeper’, he is the manager of a small non-League side who takes in former Prisoner of War Bert Trautmann and gives the German youngster a chance in goal for his team.
A movie about one of his childhood heroes and City – an ambition realised for the Manchester-born Henshaw.
“It was a double whammy for me,” he said. “I’ve been in a few football films, but even though I’m not directly associated with City in this film as such – I’m the St Helen’s Town manager in The Keeper – it was still really enjoyable.
“Bert Trautmann was one of my heroes and though I never actually saw him play, I knew of his stature from an early age and was very familiar with his story. He was such a brave guy - St Helen’s took him on and though he came with a lot of baggage, they gave him a chance and the rest is history.
“My character gives Bert a chance and sees his potential and how he is accepted by his team-mates, the community and eventually the whole country. Football is obviously always there and running throughout and it all leads up to his heroics with City. Bert was a hell of a guy. He nearly died four times, escaped four times, was awarded the Iron Cross. The production team got the era spot-on because you just feel that you are there, and it was just fantastic
“It was a great script and as a I say, Bert has a wonderful story, so I was delighted to be asked to be in the film.”
Henshaw’s previous body of work made him a natural choice for Jack Friar, and like every part he plays, he is completely natural, engaging and believable.
He says: “I met the director, Marcus Rosenmüller who is a nice fella but mad as a box of frogs! He was great fun and very clever and I think he’s done a great job with the film. He’d seen a couple of Ken Loach’s movies that I’d been in – Looking for Eric and The Angel’s Share – and he said that he thought I would be perfect for the part of Jack Friar, so I got the role on the back of Ken’s films.
“Ken makes fantastic films. Everyone wants to go and see X Men, Spider-man or Marvel movies these days, but then you see these films on TV that we crafted about four years earlier and you think ‘That was great’ – but unless you get the distribution and get it into cinemas, they just pass people by.
“The best thing about the Internet is that now people can share info and spread the word if they like something and that’s obviously what we’re hoping happens with The Keeper.”
Recalling his previous football movies, he added: “I was in When Saturday Comes, Second Coming and then There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble which all had tenuous links to City and I even got on the pitch at Maine Road filming a couple of them. But then I had to play a big FC United fan in Looking for Eric – so I can get away with that a little bit – but to be associated with Bert Trautmann and City is fantastic and I loved it.
“Why should City fans go and see it? Well, it’s not a film just about football – that’s almost incidental – it’s more about St Helen’s, Bert coming over and being as a Prisoner of War and his journey to becoming one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. It’s got something for everyone but, of course, it’s a story about a Manchester City legend.”
Henshaw was in another box office hit earlier this year, playing comedian Nobby Crook in a cameo role in the Stan and Ollie biopic. Inevitably, he manages to link City to his participation in the movie.
“I was lucky to be in another film based on my heroes,” he smiled. “I remember they asked me up, just for a day’s filming, and I said to Steve Coogan that I should have been watching City v Arsenal that same day. He said I should get my priorities right and I said, ‘I know – I should be watching City’s game against Arsenal!’
And with City taking part in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend, the timing of the release couldn’t be much better, given Trautmann’s legendary role in the 1956 FA Cup final…
‘The Keeper’ opened nationwide on Friday 5 April
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